5 Truths About Cremation

Desert mesa with partly cloudy skies.

No one wants to talk about death, let alone about cremation. Since it’s a topic not often discussed at the dinner table, and because making funeral arrangements for a loved one is something we rarely have to do, there tend to be quite a few misconceptions surrounding cremation. But the better informed you are about end-of-life arrangements, the more equipped you and your family are to make the right decisions for you and your loved ones when the time comes. Here are the five things people most often get wrong about cremation:

1. Cremation must be performed immediately.

It is not required for a person’s body to be cremated immediately. Legally, a body cannot be cremated without the required paperwork, including a death certificate and cremation authorization signed by the legal next of kin. These can take several days to process, naturally postponing cremation services.

At French, we encourage family members to spend some time with their loved one’s remains before cremation, and we give you the option to hold either a private or public viewing prior to cremation, and to even be present at the cremation itself. The act of seeing and sitting with the deceased can help people come to terms with their loss, and can be beneficial for a healthy grieving process.

2. The funeral home might accidentally send you someone else’s ashes.

At French, we have a stringent process for handling and safeguarding the people in our care, which includes meticulous guidelines for checking the identity of the deceased throughout the entire process. We also own our own crematory, so your loved one never leaves our care, ensuring our level of safekeeping is never compromised. Only one individual is allowed to be present in the same cremation chamber at the same time, protecting the dignity of the deceased and making sure the ashes you receive are strictly your loved one's.

3. Cremation is cheaper than burial.

This is probably the most common misunderstanding about cremation. People have been led to believe that the overall cost of cremation is less than that of a burial. While it is true that direct cremation—with no other services such as embalming, public viewing of the body, casket, memorial services, the services of funeral staff, etc.—is less expensive, most people want to include memorial services that honor their loved one and allow family and friends to participate in remembering and celebrating a life lived. Cremation is just one step in this process, just like burial itself is. To cut out the rituals we need to honor a life and help us grieve can cost us healthy steps to healing.

4. You can’t have a traditional funeral if you choose cremation.

As we mentioned previously, cremation is only one step in arranging a memorial service for a loved one. You may choose a viewing prior to cremation, have the urn present at the service, bury their ashes with or without a graveside service, or place their urn in a columbarium. Another popular option is to hold a scattering ceremony somewhere that had significance to the deceased. The dedicated staff at French work closely with you to inform you of your options and help you choose the ones that are best for you and your family.

5. Cremated remains are ashes.

Many people believe that the remains they’ll receive after cremation have the same consistency as actual ashes. This is not the case. During cremation, the body is exposed to extremely high temperatures (not fire) that reduce it to bone fragments. The fragments are placed in a machine that turns them into a coarse, sand-like material, which is then returned to the family.

We are always available to answer your questions about cremation and to walk you through your options. Call us any time, or learn more about Cremation Services here.

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